Disrupting the Disruptor: Advanced treatment of Atrial Fibrillation/AFib
Below is an article by Clive Robinson, MD, FRACS, a cardiovascular surgeon at St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Joseph Tiano, MD, FACC, medical director of the electrophysiology lab at St. Vincent’s.
Advances in the field of cardiology are enabling us to live longer, healthier lives, and St. Vincent’s continues to lead the way, performing these life-saving procedures every day, allowing doctor and patient alike to enjoy success.
What Actually Is Atrial Fibrillation/AFib?
“The condition is a complicated, irregular rhythm that begins in the upper chambers of the heart,” said Clive Robinson, MD, FRACS, a cardiovascular surgeon at St. Vincent’s Medical Center with international experience in surgical techniques to address AFib. “Oddly, about 40 percent of patients are unaware of having AFib,” said Dr. Robinson. “However, for many, it can be disabling and often patients feel their lives are turned upside down. Even when out of AFib, they wonder when it will strike next.”
“Certain medical factors coupled with environmental triggers can set off AFib and these align with risk for stroke, which need to be addressed in a patient-specific manner,” said Joseph Tiano, MD, FACC, medical director of the electrophysiology lab at St. Vincent’s.
Disrupting the Disruptor
“At St. Vincent’s, we are in the unique position of having the capability to offer all options of treatment for AFib, which other centers throughout the country do not,” said Dr. Tiano. The AFib team is recognized nationally for their expertise, and St. Vincent’s is a national training center for other doctors learning the techniques.
“We can perform the ablation in a variety of ways,” Dr. Tiano said. “That is, we may use radiofrequency, laser or cryotherapy. If it is in the early stage, we might work on the inside of the heart alone. If it has progressed to a persistent level, both an inside and outside (hybrid) approach is used, with surgeons working in unison.”
“Because a full surgical effort, complete with splitting of the breastbone, does not have to be used in reaching the chambers of the heart,” said Dr. Tiano, “choosing the newer, less intrusive procedures allows St. Vincent’s patients to recover far faster, spend much less time in the hospital, avoid developing large chest scars, and get back to their normal lives sooner. The results are life changing.”